Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”
Directed & Written
by John Wells

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
Pic 1Baz (Scott Speedman) is feeling disconnected, from a lot. Even Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) wants to spend more time with Uncle Pope (Shawn Hatosy). Meanwhile, Lucy (Carolina Guerra) keeps feeding the discontent, the disconnect, trying to move him away and get him to take over the empire, to take back the money. Although I’m not so sure it’s all in his better interest. Feels like she might be more in it for herself.
Poor mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is still on the inside. Mean muggin’ and acting like she’s as hard as the rest of them. She sits by herself in the cafeteria and a bunch of Latina ladies take a seat next to her. “J sent us,” one of them tells her. Wow, looks like J (Finn Cole) really is taking care of grandma from the outside.
What about Pope? Sure, he’s got Lena. But that little girl is essentially the only connection he has left to the world. He’s like a ghost, sort of walking through the lives o everyone around him. Haunting them, haunting himself. But at the same time we can see how a life of shit has crushed him into submission. He’s a responsible adult, yet around him are his brothers, irresponsible and half crazy. Not to say Pope ain’t crazy. He’s been forced into being an adult, all those mental health issues left festering in the dark. Ready to explode.
Then there’s J, ready to graduate. Our boy is growing up! Nicky (Molly Gordon) insists he’s going to the ceremony, that they’ll have a party with everyone at the house afterwards.
Pic 1AAt the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) mull over how things will be with the kid in charge of power of attorney. They’d much rather it that way than Baz, the distrust is strong against him, exacerbated by their mother pulling strings.
Baz and J head-to-head is the worst of it all. The older of the two, after all this time, starts bringing up J’s mom. He tells a story about Smurf not wanting to send her to rehab. One night a guy broke in, raped her as she was in a stoned coma. Smurf only cared because she lost a condo deal. 9 months later? Baby J. Hoooooly fuck.
However, stay with me… could Barry have told that story on purpose to light a fire? And maybe that story isn’t true.
Smurf isn’t overly thrilled about the legal situation, her lawyers are telling her she could be in there 6 months. Later, she gets a visit from an old face, a detective. He’s there about a string of bank robberies lately. Says the robber from the footage, “how he walks” reminds him of somebody: Pope. Of course mom doesn’t know the truth about her son, that he’s been out pulling jobs by himself. Six banks in a single day, then nothing at all.
All the rest of the gang are meeting at the house. Baz called a meeting, so everyone’s heading in packing heat. Just in case, y’know. The man wants to talk about the power of attorney, he’d like to talk about things. Except he’s confrontational, angry. Not everyone’s on his side, either. He says they weren’t “strong enough” to know what he was planning on doing to Smurf. Shiiiiiit, there’s some bad stuff brewing.
Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.25.30 AMContinually, we see Baz shirk the responsibility of his daughter. He’s going to Mexico now, looking for a place. He’s leaving her with Pope. Again. “Youve gotta step up and be more of a father to her,” Pope tells him. All he gets in return is lecturing bullshit. Sad when I agree more with the guy who killed Catherine than her own husband.
You know what finally struck me is that Lena’s the single innocent light in the midst of all the darkness. Even J, he’s done some shit being involved with his uncles, same with Nicky. That little girl is the only good thing that’s sprung from the Cody tree; even then, not by blood.
Graduation day isn’t exactly going as planned. Nicky’s parents didn’t make it, J’s late. So they decide to say fuck it. Another sad, symbolic moment. Seeing their innocence tossed aside with Nicky’s corsage in the pool.
Baz goes to see Smurf finally. Face-to-face. She talks about the offer from the detective. They chat about her being framed for killing Javi. And Baz just plays it all off. BUT NOW WE’RE SEEING IT COME OUT. NOW. Smurf says that “Pope knows” what happened to Catherine. Oh, my, fucking, GOD! I can’t believe she’s doing this, she’s actually going to put Pope in the line of fire – not that he doesn’t deserve it – and if things go sideways, there’s no more loyalty. Not if he finds out mom gave him up.
Smurf: “Pope loves you, and he loved Catherine. But Pope will always love me more.”
And goddamn if she doesn’t actually call to tell her son that Baz knows, that he’ll be coming soon. Christ almighty. That woman’s cold. So then Pope heads out, gun ready. Scares the shit out of Deran and Craig when he shows up crazy, asking if they’ll take care of Lena should anything happen to him.

Baz goes to find Pope, who’s waiting. Pope quickly admits to it: “She didnt suffer.” He explains what he and mom thought, that she was ratting the family out. It was always about their brotherhood, about Smurf and her hold over the boys. About punishment. This all sends Pope into a rage, brokenhearted that the family never once gave him a thought. So he asks his adopted brother to kill him. Begging. Instead of doing it, Baz forgives him. “Ill take care of you, always,” he repeats, hugging him. He’s ready to believe that Smurf is the driving force. Which she was, though I find it hard to see how he can give Pope a pass.
Stupidly, J and Nicky break into a house. When an old guy shows up with a shotgun, they flee. Fast. But she gets hit with a bit of buckshot. This is more of their deteriorating youth, going to waste on madness and crime. They’re spiralling.
Craig is taking off for a bit, to let things cool down. He goes to see Renn (Christina Ochoa) in hopes she’ll go, too. Simultaneously, Lucy and Baz are getting ready for Mexico.
But in the car, Baz takes several shots to the chest through the windshield. Someone in a hoodie runs off while he gives chase before falling down. Then Lucy leaves him in the street as police sirens fly in the background. Heart of stone. She goes directly with Marco to take the rest of Baz’s shit and sell it off. Whoa.
So who did the shooting? My guess is J. He’s sitting by the pool, a similar hoodie on. But you never know, it could’ve been someone sent by Smurf. I’d still place a hefty wager on J.
Pic 4Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.50.51 AMThis was a WILD season! I cannot wait for Season 3. Simple as that. Give me more.
Will Baz survive? I think he will. And if he does, there’s gonna be some hell to pay. Paranoia will reign supreme.

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Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 10: “Treasure”
Directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka
Written by T.J. Brady & Rasheed Newson

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Custody” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Leopard” – click here
Pic 1J (Finn Cole) finds grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) in his bed, drinking. She’s worried about who robbed her storage unit. Naturally, the kid’s nervous. He helped uncle Baz (Scott Speedman) break in, though he wasn’t the one who told him about it; Barry did that all on his own.
Speaking of him, he’s checking out the haul from Smurf’s safes. Quite the goddamn loot, too. From jewellery to stacks of bills, it’s impressive. This is one time Baz is truly off on his own. He and the other lads are in two different directions. While he’s robbing his adopted mom, Craig (Ben Robson) is heading up the next actual job. He’s still dragging Nicky (Molly Gordon) around while doing shady shit. They’ve got it all planned. But I keep seeing her winding up in handcuffs. Meanwhile, Renn (Christina Ochoa) turns up again, warning the young lady about Craig not being “worth the ride.” She’d know, she nearly died after overdosing and being left in the bathroom to die by him. My only fear, that I know is justified, is that Nicky won’t figure that out before it’s too late.
Pic 2At the bar, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) goes to see Deran (Jake Weary) before they’re supposed to get going on their end of the job’s preparations. He’s not happy, he doesn’t like that Marco (Joseph Julian Soria) and Nicky both – outsiders – are part of the job. And these are genuine, smart concerns.
The younger brother doesn’t see it as anything more than simple risk. He also believes they “owe” Craig. But, if you look at the dude’s track record he’s a junkie, one who’s caused the gang a good deal of nonsense. Remember the first we really saw a lot of Craig he got himself shot? Yeah.
J goes to see Baz, worrying about the Smurf trouble. Knowing he went back on his own after the kid was gone. Baz suddenly plays the family card, after usually keeping J at arm’s length. Now he’s ready to trust him. Hope the kid is up to the task. Playing in the rough game his uncles do is dangerous shit.
Then there’s Smurf, going off the deep end. She has a cattle prod, pumping the storage locker attendant full of voltage to get answers about what happened during the robbery. She discovers it was indeed Baz, that he was alone. She also shows the guy a picture of J, but he didn’t see him there. “Thank you,” Smurf says before heading back to the car. Where little Lena Roo (Aamya Deva Keroles) sits with headphones on. Lord, what a piece of work.
The Cody gang are now pirates. Heading out to jack a boat. Craig leads them on the job, acting more responsible than we’ve ever seen him. He isn’t exactly the hard, heavy handed leader that we see in his mother. I guess he’s trying, at least. He wants to be taken seriously by his brothers, to prove to Smurf he isn’t useless, either.
And Smurf, she’s plotting the next step in her conflict with Baz. The father, as usual, isn’t around to take care of his daughter. He’s actually watching the place. He heads inside after Smurf leaves, to find the gun stashed in the fridge. Shit, man. He’s really escalating this little war. Would he go so far as to implicate Smurf in something, or perhaps turn in evidence to drop the law on her? Whoooa, if so.
Out on the open sea, Craig plays his role as member of the staff. Pouring drinks, being polite and tending to the newly married couple celebrating. All is well. On the boat he rented under a fake ID, Nicky is practising her lines, then she calls out to the response of the US Coast Guard. A nice distraction while there’s trouble on the ocean elsewhere. Craig’s setting everything in motion, throwing lines over the side and heading down below to cut off the boat’s communications, the rest of the sabotage required.
Pic 3All the while Baz is taking a walk out to a hill in the middle of nowhere. Looks very familiar. Maybe like the place where Javi was shot in the head, buried. Is he going to dig up the body? Seems to have brought the right gear – a shovel, a suit to keep from getting anything on him. Oh, my. Baz… this is fucking intense, dude. He digs the body out, puts a bullet in the head with the gun from the fridge, then covers it all back up. Not what I expected exactly. Still wild.
Simultaneously Smurf is at his place, searching for anything at all. She looks everything, top to bottom. Wonder if she’ll come across anything. Barry was dumb enough to let himself be seen at the storage unit. What else did he forget?
The ship is stopping, just like Craig planned. Out on the smaller boat, Nicky fumbles around acting innocently dumb for the Coast Guard who are towing her back. Then we’ve got the rest of the boys, Sea-Dooing to the ship. They’ve even got clear, creepy masks! They zip tie the crew, Pope controls the captain and the bridge, as Deran looks after the crowd with Marco, using his Spanish speaking skills. Then Craig is used as a decoy, getting his face and ribs beat in by Pope and Marco; the latter seeming to pile on more than agreed.
Nevertheless, the job goes over after the money, the jewellery, everything’s collected. When one woman will not give over her ring, Marco cuts the finger off with the ring intact. Fuck, that is horrifying. This went from a robbery to a bit of torture. Craig seems fine with it. Glad they’ve got shit done. I only wonder how far the Cody gang is willing to go morally. Doesn’t sit well with Pope afterwards, though. Of all people!
Pic 4What’s with Baz spending up cash? He’s bought a car, a house for him and Lucy (Carolina Guerra). Well, the house is a place for him to stash all his earnings. As well as the massive haul from Smurf’s storage unit. Although I’m not sure if Lucy’s down. It semi-impresses, and also freaks her out, I think.
And J, my lord, J! He’s become such a jaded part of the gang. When Smurf asks if there were any problems on the latest job, he dumps the ring finger out on the table. Then watches her throw it down the garbage disposal with some bleach. Also, he took a picture of the loot on his phone. Yikes. Not a good idea, bro.
Later he goes to see an old friend, his previous neighbour Dina (Karen Malina White). They’re having a bit of dinner together, for old time’s sake; something they’ve been doing lately, apparently.  Then he goes to her bathroom. Under the sink, in a secret stash he hides some jewellery. Where there’s already several stacks of cash. Hmm. Maybe the kid’s planning not to be part of the Cody shit show much longer.
Celebrating at the bar, J gets closer to Nicky while Craig rails coke, Pope goes home for an early night, and Deran swipes around on Tinder until he finds a guy to fuck. All’s good in the land of the Codys. Although Pope isn’t actually gone home. He’s off to see Amy (Jennifer Landon), having grim visions of making love to her mixed with killing Catherine. He isn’t doing so hot after all. And J, he runs into uncle Deran giving a blowjob this time rather than getting one; no animosity anymore, since he’s come out of the closet. Oh, and Craig’s trying to get a second chance from Renn. A very tenuous, rocky one, but a second chance nonetheless.
Not to mention he asks Renn on a trip to Vegas. Maybe he’s turning a leaf. Or maybe he’s just finding other ways to be irresponsible.
Pic 5Now, Baz tells Lucy he wants to leave with her. Go to Mexico, move in her with her, her son, Lena. A happy little life, away from the family, and away from Smurf.
Goddamn. Is this the ultimate plan? To get Smurf put away, then take off down south of the border? Might be a good plan, if I didn’t think she was slippery enough to get out of it all unscathed. There’s no telling to what lengths she’ll go in order to save herself. And Baz might’ve been adopted by her, taken in from a terrible family.
But remember: he ain’t real family.
Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 12.19.31 AMWow, this was another intense slice of Animal Kingdom! A couple real interesting developments happening, from Nicky and J, as well as J and Deran sort of getting closer and less fist-to-fist, plus Pope’s mental state and now Baz v. Smurf. SO MUCH GOING DOWN. It’s unreal. Great Season 2, can’t wait to see how it closes out. We already know Season 3 is a go, that leaves me excited for how we’re going to head into a third outing. I’m feeling there’ll be a very suspenseful, suspicious, paranoid third season if things continue this route.
“The Leopard” is next week. Can hardly wait!

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 7: “Dig”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 7: “Dig”
Directed by David Rodriguez
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Cry Havoc” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Grace” – click here
Pic 1In the aftermath of Javi (Alex Meraz) attacking J (Finn Cole) and Nicky (Molly Gordon), what will Smurf (Ellen Barkin) do? Will Pope (Shawn Hatosy) and mom join together at least momentarily to take care of this family problem?
Meanwhile, J took a good beating. That nasty wound on his leg got opened up. Just vicious stuff. While he washes off, Pope and Smurf watch the security footage of Javi and his boys raiding the house. At the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) ignore mom’s calls, talking about their new, upcoming job, something they’re keeping secret until the time is right.
Smurf comforts J who’s feeling “shame” for not being able to protect the place, or Nicky. He wants to go after Javi. At the same time, Baz (Scott Speedman) is picking up Nicky over where she was dropped off. She doesn’t blame J for anything, it’s just him being hard on himself. Feeling the traps of faux masculinity knocking at the door. Hope it doesn’t drive him to do anything stupid, anything he doesn’t think real damn hard about first. Grandma’s doing her best to keep a lid on that temper.
Pic 1AFinally, Smurf has to explain to the boys about Javi, his father, all the tragic story from back in the day. Manny supposedly put Javi’s dad out of his misery, then he was buried at a construction site. That’s now on the street where they let Nicky go earlier. So, do the boys ride or die for big mama? Probably not. They aren’t too eager to help mom, particularly not Deran who feels “foster care” would’ve been better than being in the Cody family. That pretty much puts an end to their conversation. Although Smurf cautions: “This doesnt end until we end it.”
While normally I’d say she’s full of shit, J is involved, he was beaten, tortured. Now his uncles aren’t willing to help, when he’s put work in for them, done robberies, so on. Baz and Pope are a little more willing to entertain the idea; Craig and Deran say fuck that. What I see most is the breakdown of loyalty. I don’t know how J will take this going forward. Either way, the boys figure instead of killing Javi, they’ll move the body of his father so the cops can’t put a case on mom. Plus, Craig and Deran want cash. Yikes. The stake is driven deeper.
Furthermore, Baz – after getting pulled over by Catherine’s cop friend – brings up doubts, thoughts about her disappearance, and now thinks she’s dead. When he mentions this to Pope, the latter’s struck very uncomfortable. No telling how long his secret will last, sooner or later it’ll come out. Then there’s the fact Pope and mom have their dark little secret(s) to boot, that’s a dangerous fucking mixing pot.
Pic 2Pope worries that the cops may arrest Baz on suspicion, something he possibly can’t live with, though it’s difficult to know what he can or can’t live with in the end. Then there’s J, constantly worried that he didn’t do right by Nicky, even if she doesn’t actively blame him. Everyone is preparing to go dig up Javi’s dad, as well as figuring out their own shit simultaneously.
Out on the beach, Baz goes to meet Javi, they go way back; Pope, too. Baz tries reasoning with him. Making clear nobody is going to touch Smurf. Javi feels a lifetime of lies bear down on him, having believed his father merely ran off on him ages ago. That’s gonna cost a lot of money.
Javi (to Baz): “Youve come a long way from cryinyourself to sleep and pissinthe bed, man. Good for you. Yknow shit didnt turn out so well for me, or my dad.”
The Cody family archaeological dig’s about ready to happen, no matter if mama’s a tad sketchy on a few details. Everyone is on edge. Things are more tense between Smurf and Baz after he questions her on where she got all the money before to pay Javi, knowing that she’s been skimming on their jobs. Now the two of them opt to use money from the church job to do the payoff. Only hope is Baz can get it back before the boys figure it out. That might not go over so well with the gang.
J and Pope head into the backyard of the house where Javi’s dad was buried years prior. First, they need to take care of the people living there. So they’ve got to fake a gas leak, set things up to get at the old corpse. Outside, uncle Pop tries to steer his nephew away from doing horrible things, like he’s done: “It doesnt feel like you think it will.”
Pic 3Baz goes with Smurf to take care of the drop off and the cash. But I wonder, maybe they’re walking into something bad? Maybe. Out in the middle of nowhere, they meet Javi, who’s brought along a friend. Just seeing Smurf makes the dude’s blood boil.
The rest of the boys get down to business in the basement of the house. They’ve got all the gear to make it a quick, safe, smart job. They get down into the concrete a little ways before it looks like they’ve found the remains. Just boots, a gun, tattered clothes, and a skeleton. Only they’re missing a foot. A bit of extra digging, they locate the tootsie, and then they’re off. Another successful, greasy mission.
In a dumb move, Smurf tells Javi he’s “worthless” and “stupid” among other things. Insulting his dad. Holy shit. When Javi goes for his gun, his own buddy shoots him in the head. Looks like Smurf’s got friends in all sorts of different places. He gets the payoff cash, too. Whoa, what a sly motherfucker this lady is! Doesn’t sit so great with Baz, who doesn’t see that Javi would never stop, he needed revenge. I mean… she’s not wrong, though she is quite cold.
Baz: “I mean, cmon, Smurf, we grew up with that kid. He was like family to us.”
Smurf: “And like family isnt family
After all’s said and done, they have a mini reunion, all together out on the shore. While Javi’s dad’s remains are stuffed into a barrel, ready for burning. A weird moment, sort of bringing them all back together in a way. A fresh start for Smurf, for them all with this chapter behind them.
Pic 4Only problem is there are many bad things lurking underneath, specifically that dark secret between Pope and Smurf, the one that if it’s discovered by Baz the Cody family will be obliterated. I wonder how long more until things start unravelling. My guess is in “Grace” next week, we’ll see a bit of his come out.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 3: “Bleed For It”

 

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2
Episode 3: “Bleed For It”
Directed by J. Michael Muro
Written by Megan Martin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Karma” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Broken Boards” – click here
Pic 1A (1)On the road, Smurf (Ellen Barkin) takes J (Finn Cole) to the wake for Manny after he’s finally passed. She hadn’t seen the guy for about 20 years. I wonder how things will go for grandma and her boy. Meanwhile, Baz (Scott Speedman) calls Pope (Shawn Hatosy) to go pick up his daughter, neglecting things while he’s in Mexico with Lucy (Carolina Guerra). Baz meets with Marco (Joseph Julian Soria), who’s helping on a new job, without the Cody matriarch’s knowledge, of course.
Over at the bar he’s purchasing, Deran (Jake Weary) makes plans for construction on the bar, he wants it to be old school like before all the new money moved onto the beach. He’s interviewing people for jobs and trying to get the place off the ground.
And Pope, he’s getting to know Amy (Jennifer Landon) and the rest of her Bible study group. He actually seems to have read the Bible. Weird seeing him amongst a bunch of normal people, of any sort.
Nicky (Molly Gordon) is still kicking around at the house, though it’s clear Craig (Ben Robson) is tiring of their relationship, which was actually clear awhile ago. Might be that she’s starting to realise it now.
Pic 1A (2)At the wake, J and Smurf meet Manny’s old crew, including old buddy Jake (Jack Conley). Looks like before the guy passed, there was big trouble with his crew. Being run by Javier (Alex Meraz), apparently a real “sick piece of shit.”
It’s also becoming painfully obvious that Craig has no ambition, or at least no sense to make ambition reality. He and Deran are at odds over the bar, what to do, how to do it. Most of all, Deran worries about being an ex-con and that it might make things problematic come inspection time.
J has a chat with Javier, the guy’s got issues with Smurf, which isn’t hard to tell. He thinks she’s there for other reasons, not out of the goodness in her heart. There’s something very, very eerie here. They have history; dark stuff. They were once like family; Manny, Javier and his dad, as well.
In Mexico, Lucy’s brother Marco offers Baz up a bit of business on the side, though he doesn’t want much part of it. Lucy later tells him she thinks Marco’s in trouble. Back home, Lena’s being watched over by uncle Pope. Seeing him with the girl is tragic, in a lot of ways. For the fact he killed her mother, and loved her, for the fact he’s clearly got a nurturing side to him, even if it’s buried by all the worrisome history he has with his mother. Great moment where a pigeon hits the window; Pope is about to put it out of its misery, then it flies away. A humanitarian lesson there for him, so often quick to take action.
Pic 2In the motel room J and Smurf kick back. She receives a late visit from Jake, apparently Manny was recording things near the end of life to keep his memory strong. That’s going to be a large problem for her. If he said anything troubling, could mean jail time. Or worse. What’s she planning on doing about it? Will she look for the tapes?
Nicky, alone at the Cody palace, snoops around the house, finding cash, trying on Smurf’s clothes. She accidentally knocks a pair of sunglasses to the floor and finds an automatic weapon under the dresser. She pretends to fire it like a child with a toy gun.
Alone together, Lena asks her uncle: “Is mommy dead?” He’s caught off guard, answering slow in a reassuring tone. She’s also curious why her father doesn’t show his sadness the way she does. Pope tells her he’s “secret sad.” Certainly he can’t tell her the truth, so he talks about not having a dad as a boy; problem is he DIDN’T turn out okay.
Smurf tells J more of the story concerning Manny, how he was a mentor to her after she got out of her first little stint in jail. She was a young, impressionable girl, learned to steal and grift and lie with the best. She then asks J to put a bullet in her if she loses her mental faculties. And she’s serious, too. So he promises. Then she kisses him on the lips. Yikes. I hope she doesn’t take him down the same path as Pope.
Now with so much at stake, Craig decides he’s dumping Nicky. After she knows about the guns, money, his love of drugs, and she knows about the bar. Dera wants to keep it from Smurf until the grand opening. Not sure if that’ll happen at this point. I worry, deeply, for Nicky.
Pic 3Using a story Smurf told him about Manny, J does an impromptu robbery at a diner using grandma as the perfect pretty bait. Uh oh, this is not good. Not just the fact he’s becoming closer with her, I worry that her strange affections will spread further over her grandson. It’s terrifying, really.
Smurf: “Youre a natural. Not like the other boys.”
When Craig talks with Nicky, she asks about what her dad helped them with, what sort of bad shit he got into before leaving for Guam. She demands respect, seeing as how he enjoys all the perks of their relationship and not the fact they’re actually in one together. He doesn’t break up with her. Yet.
Deran gets inspected finally and he’s nervous. He tells the man upfront about his time in jail, the charges. He also tells him about being a competitive surfer, and when that went south he went off the rails. It all looks good, especially with him choosing not to offer a bribe and remaining honest. Looks like the possibility of a new life for Deran.
Amy goes to see Pope. She wanted him to know about her past. She had a son who was in the car with her while she had a drunk driving accident and she hasn’t yet forgiven herself. Wonders if he’ll hold it against her. Little does she know who she’s talking to, the type of person he’s become over the years, what he’s done. He can accept just about anyone.
Pic 4Baz goes to Gia (Karina Logue), their fence. He finds out that the Cody matriarch doesn’t want them doing business with her. Cut off. This will cause a good deal of grief in the long run, right now it’s pushing the gang further apart.
He gets back home to Lena and Pope, glad to see his little girl. He also fills Pope in about the latest problem involving Smurf, they have no buyers and a job coming up in two weeks. So they’ve got to figure something out. Baz turns up after Gia leaves work, to speak with her employee Monica (Tembi Locke). They might be able to strike up a deal.
What scares me above all? Javier’s going to listen to the tapes Manny made. He’s going to find out something terrible, something he’ll hold over Smurf. Perhaps something that might make him angry enough to kill.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 8.52.37 AMStunning episode. So much happening. Particularly, I’m worried constantly about Smurf exerting a strong, bad influence over J. He’s already falling into her lap, as a boy lost after losing his mother. It only gets stronger with every passing day, the more they spend time together.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 2: “Karma”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 2: “Karma”
Directed by Thomas Carter
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Eat What You Kill” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Bleed For It” – click here
Pic 1Things with Craig (Ben Robson) and young Nicky (Molly Gordon) are speeding along, as she falls deeper in love with him and he’s, most likely, just having a good time. He’s a bit of a dummy, Craig; not exactly a deep thinker. Meanwhile, Baz (Scott Speedman) is moving on with Lucy (Carolina Guerra) one step at a time, after the disappearance of Catherine (Daniella Alonso).
And at home, Pope (Shawn Hatosy) looks after Baz’s little girl, he takes her to school, as Smurf (Ellen Barkin) watches on while her boys all do their own thing without mama. You can tell she’s lost. At the same time, the relationship between her and Pope is steadily deteriorating, worse than ever before. Because she sent him to the dark depths of his own soul, now he’s never coming back.
Josh (Finn Cole) makes breakfast at Smurf’s place, then grandma gets a call from Nicky – there’s a fire, after Craig dropped a joint on the couch. So she explains to the young lady to get rid of the drugs, stash her boy’s gun somewhere, and make sure there’s nothing incriminating.
Smurf isn’t too happy when she gets over to the burning apartment. She tells Craig he’ll be paying for the renovations, and he’s not too happy about that. Nor does he stick around with his girlfriend. I wonder if Nicky will finally figure out that he doesn’t care about her.
Pic 1AThen there’s Deran (Jake Weary), he’s trying to cobble together the money so he can buy that bar. But the time is running out, he either needs to put up the cash or he loses the deposit. Out on the town, J goes along with his uncles Deran and Craig, falling in further with the family’s muddied ties. Simultaneously, Smurf decides to let Nicky stay at her place; another way to get under her boy’s skin? I’d bet on it.
Deran, Craig, and J head over to a nearby church. The brothers put on shirts for an HVAC company, heading inside with tool belts and all. Supposedly there to fix an air conditioning unit. They smooth talk their way to the roof and Craig wonders if they’re headed for “karmic vengeance,” and then J works his way downstairs to find where all the vents go, et cetera. Pope, he stops in to listen to a few Christian rock tunes in an auditorium, as Baz distracts the security guard on-site.
J gets into an Employees Only area, he takes various pictures. Then he locates a safe in the floor, snapping another one. On the way out he’s noticed by an employee, covering by saying he’s there for Narcotics Anonymous. Slick. Outside the auditorium, Pope meets a woman named Amy (Jennifer Landon), they talk briefly about church. Imagine Pope, in church! Jesus wept.
Pic 2The boys are busy planning the big heist at the church, and Smurf is busy changing codes, locks, everything to which the rest of the family has access. None of them are really on the same page. Money troubles, specifically those of Craig and Deran, start infringing on the group’s plans. They’re falling apart at the seams. Funny enough, Baz and Pope are the only two really together on the robbery front; if he only knew what Smurf’s oldest boy has done. But Pope, he’s got his mind on figuring out why his brothers are so thirsty for cash.
And Baz has plenty of trouble on his hands with Lucy, after his daughter walked in to see them together. She isn’t pleased he didn’t tell her about Lena living there. Now, their relationship is crumbling, too. Lucy would rather they keep it less serious, and I can’t imagine this will do the Cody gang any favours with Baz being distracted. What about when he starts digging further into why Catherine disappeared?
Smurf goes to see a friend named Gia (Karina Logue) with a ring she needs cut up. What she’s there for, above all else, is to try cutting the boys off from her sources. She explains to Gia that Baz will soon come to her, lightly suggesting she not get into business too deep with him. Hmm. Tricky mama. Baz has his own money problems, as well; trying to keep a private investigation into Catherine’s whereabouts going on his own ain’t cheap.
When Pope convinces Deran his next target is too hot to move on, the Cody boys go for a food truck instead. One from which apparently drugs are sold. Only, as usual, nothing goes like they planned. Still – they manage to pull off the heist.
Pic 3Ohhh, I think I might see Smurf’s plan ahead of time. Nicky walks into the kitchen at Mama Cody’s place, as Josh sits at the counter; she’s actually wearing his clothes. Curious if perhaps Smurf’s trying to get the young man and his once girlfriend back together, in turn creating friction between J and uncle Craig. Shit, this is a sly move.
When the boys split up the money, Craig gets the cash he needs for the deposit on the bar from Pope and Deran, though a loan, of course. At home, Baz is struggling with taking care of his daughter and also continuing to plot out the church job. Dad’s not doing so well with Lena. However, the hypocritical shit coming out of Pope’s mouth about parenting would sound a lot better if he didn’t kill the little girl’s mother.
Baz (to Pope): “No ones ever gonna have a kid with you, ever.”
Later, Craig pays in full for the bar’s lease. Even though it’s a tough road of business ahead, it’s a slice of freedom. Something to not only take him out of robbing banks and other places, to take him out of Smurf’s loving stranglehold.
Baz goes to see Lucy, to apologise. He tells her Catherine left because she found out about them. For the time being, their relationship is okay. Yet there are so many threads waiting to be yanked out of this that’ll send everyone spinning and unravelling.
Alone at home, Smurf laments the loss of her boys, how they’ve grown up and split apart, from themselves and from her. When J gets back, he and Smurf talk about him possibly moving out. “What do you want, J?” she asks. “I want to stay,” he replies. Then a call comes in – someone relays to Smurf that Manny has died. On her face is a mix of sadness and nostalgia. Now grandma wants to take J on a road trip for the wake. More time alone together. After seeing how Pope turned out, I worry for what this means.
Pic 5Another solid episode. Season 2 is starting out excellent, with all the characters really developing and new things happening. I was worried the plot might peter out and get too slim. So far, so good; it’s looking exciting! And dark as all hell.
Next episode is “Bleed For It” and I wonder what the Smurf-J road trip will bring.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 1: “Eat What You Kill”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 1: “Eat What You Kill”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “What Have You Done?” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Karma” – click here
Pic 1The boys (and mom) are back in town! Season 2, baby.
No telling where things are headed, after Pope (Shawn Hatosy) did the unthinkable to Catherine, leaving Baz (Scott Speedman) to wonder where she’s gone. Little Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) is the only one who knows for sure. Well, except for that eerie connection between Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her boy Pope, that provides another tense side of the entire relationship between Baz and the Codys and everything in between.
Speaking of Smurf, she’s been drinking a lot, so it seems. Waking up to a drink isn’t healthy. Meanwhile, her boys – Pope, Craig (Ben Robson), Deran (Jake Weary), and the newest addition Josh (Finn Cole) – and Baz are out doing what they do best: cheat, rob, steal; in no particular order.
Of course J’s been fully indoctrinated. He is a Cody, through and through. It’s troubling. Because these aren’t honest, Robin Hood-type thieves. Smurf is a damaged and dangerous person, as is her son Pope. Although that’s probably much to do with her own… predilections. And as Pope’s mental state worsens, his actions becoming more desperate as the end of Season 1 proved, it’s tough to see a young man like J – a mostly good person – become wrapped up in his family’s brutality. Question is, will he escape it, or will the Codys swallow him whole?
On their latest job, the Cody boys and Baz do a ton of work only to come out with a couple small stacks of cash; barely $500. Yet at home awaits mother with her pie, their family ritual after a robbery. So surreal, how they sit around and chat after a major crime. But things are deteriorating, between Pope and his dark headspace, and Smurf getting fucking hammered as she leads the clan. Mom and her oldest boy are especially having issues. Wonder how that’ll pan out re: Pope’s nasty little secret. Baz tries cooling everyone down, though I don’t know how well his word will stand.
Pic 1ADeran’s got a $50K deal, meeting a woman in a small bar where he hands over an envelope of cash. Not all of the agreed price, naturally. Their recent short-changed job didn’t do him any favours. So, is Deran trying to go straight? Is he making an investment in that bar, or another place? I think he’s trying his best to get out from under Smurf.
Crazy, crazy Pope, he goes out to the place in the desert where he buried Catherine. His psyche is damaged, and it was long before. By killing the woman he loved, something altogether new is happening to him. And for the first time in his life it’s as if he’s feeling genuine guilt, remorse, rather than floating through life like he does usually devoid of emotion.
At a family meeting, Baz leads the charge to try changing things with Smurf, to lessen her iron grip on their gang. She’s drunk and takes it personally. She uses failures from the past, recent and long ago, to bite back at them. Including taking Baz in from his horrible father. Things explode eventually, as he can’t take it anymore. None of them can.
Craig: “No more suckinmommys dick!”
Everyone’s wondering what to do with J. On one hand, Deran suggests he and Craig out to bring the kid in while he’s confused, torn across the family. Maybe Deran’s concern is for his own secret, worrying J will out him. On the other hand, Pope and Baz have their own feelings about him, whether he’s trustworthy.
Smurf gets a visit about her payments to Manny – $5,000 a month. Or, so she thinks. Apparently he’s dying and Smurf has to go pay respects. She refuses to leave. We discover more and more about the Cody matriarch, her well of young men runs deep and there’s so many questions about the destruction she’s caused through her lifetime. Curiouser and curiouser.
Pic 2Turns out that Deran IS looking to buy up the bar. He wants to take over the lease, after the owner died and left his wife with the place. At least, despite his own flaws, the guy has plans outside of robbery for his life. And at home with Smurf, J is trying to figure out his own life. He’s conflicted, about everything. Likewise, he’s complicit in everything in which the Cody family is involved.
What we do see is who Smurf starts favouring. Earlier, Craig’s credit card – paid by mom – is cut off, and Deran, too. But now she’s given J his own card. I worry that either on purpose or inadvertently, she’s going to put him in a bad position with the uncles.
And what about Nicky (Molly Gordon)? She and Craig have been an item all this time. He’s not loving it, though. The difference in age is apparent, yet is it? He’s still depending on mom, she’s still in high school and living on the whim of her father. However, there’s absolutely trouble coming from this end. If the film Animal Kingdom is any indication, and they stick to the character arc where Nicky ended up, she is headed somewhere grim.
Latest Cody robbery? Possibly a yacht job. They’re all on different pages, each pairing’s got their own ideas – Pope and Baz against Deran and Craig. Then, we still have poor Baz going off the rails, yelling at his own daughter, his head too caught up in making money to pay attention to his own blood. And Pope, he makes what amends he can by showing the little girl some attention. Even Deran and Craig at odds, the latter sniffing coke making things even more unstable.
Still, they all go back to Smurf’s house for supper. Despite their relative silence, everyone reaches for a toast: “May we all get what we want, and never what we deserve.” Things aren’t as bad as they seemed before. Mom acts fine with their new efforts to be more independent. When Pope has the chance, he warns J about getting too close to her.
Pic 3A fantastic, low key episode to start Season 2. I’m super curious about Manny, his connection and importance to Smurf, as well as Javier (Alex Meraz), whose history with her clearly goes back a long way. Lots of stuff to mull over! Great start to this new season.
Next episode is “Karma” and I’m hoping to see more of the Cody family problems create tension as time goes by. I wonder who’ll be the first to meet a tragic end? Y’know it’s brewing.

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 10: “What Have You Done?”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 10: “What Have You Done?”
Directed by John Wells
Written by Jonathan Lisco

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “Judas Kiss” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Eat What You Kill” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.36.53 AM After what Pope (Shawn Hatosy) has done to Catherine, we’ve come to the season finale. What will Baz (Scott Speedman) do if he finds out? Because you KNOW he’s going to. Can Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) contain what’s about to happen? Or will the Cody Boys tear themselves apart from the inside?
Now that Lena’s mom is dead, she’s with Smurf. Although the matriarch has other things on her mind. Such as Josh (Finn Cole) “banging” his teacher. She doesn’t want her boys loving anyone but her, though disguises it as concern for their family business, trouble at school could make things bad for everyone.
Meanwhile, Baz is searching for Catherine, as Pope goes about his day – doing work around the house, lying to his adopted brother. The story is Catherine took money from Smurf – true – and then took off somewhere – not true. But Baz is too smart for this to slip away from him completely.
Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.38.38 AM Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux) and Patrick (Dorian Missick) are all over J. They want him to stick close to the family. However, they’ve got no idea at all what it’s like living under the roof of Janine Cody. Whatsoever. The most interesting part of a wildly interesting series is seeing young Josh between a rock and a very, very hard, dark place.
The other interesting part is that Baz is being leaned on by Smurf, as he tries to figure out what’s happening with Catherine. He questions his daughter about what went on. She talks about a man driving “mommys car” and that’s really all he can get out of her before Smurf interferes. And she knows what happened, even if Pope didn’t expressly tell her; she made it happen.
Craig and Deran (Ben Robson & Jake Weary) are out sitting in the SUV, watching the money. For his part, Craig decides to rail a bit of blow, whereas more level-headed Deran sticks to weed.
So where’s the treachery end? If Baz discovers exactly to what end Smurf has been working this whole Catherine situation, that cannot ever be made right. For anyone who’s seen the original film: will Hatosy’s Pope meet the same fate, but at the hands of Baz? Or will Speedman’s Baz meet the same fate as his Joel Edgerton counterpart and leave the rest of the Cody Gang to go on about their lives? Hard to tell just yet. Either way, it’s why I love this series even more than the movie. Because there is a chance for Jonathan Lisco and the writers to expand upon the original story, characters, plots.
Also, even Pope – the one who murdered Catherine – seems uneasy with the way Smurf is playing things. She’s got Baz convinced maybe Vin (Michael Bowen) could be involved, after showing up the other day.
And don’t forget about Navy Lt. Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell). He’s positioning himself for a “bigger cut” of that big, warm robbery pie that he helped facilitate. This may start to spell trouble for the man.
Pope goes to the docks to track down Vin. He claims there’s a job for him to get in on. This only leads Vin into the arms of Baz. Fuck – how is Pope planning on playing this one? He stands by and tries not to watch or listen to his bro beat on the guy; a guy who knows nothing.
Simultaneously, the GPS on the money blows up the radar. Craig and Deran are off. They get into the truck hauling their barrels and start to remove the money, only the driver isn’t stopped long. When he gets going, this starts a huge mess and an almost Three Stooges-esque moment or two with the brothers. Hilarious. Tragic. They wind up having to assault the driver, sticking him right inside one of the barrels. That’s a solution… I guess.


Over in the midst of torture, Baz gets no answers from Vin. To top off the betrayal, Pope isn’t just doing a horrible thing to Baz. He’s further turning his back on Vin, the man that looked after him in prison and saved him from who knows what.
Then the truth comes out from Josh: he tells Smurf about the cops, plain and simple. They’re waiting for a text to come raid the house once the money’s there. Slippery Janine has him do exactly that. When the police arrive everything is normal, the big happy family sit out by the pool. Like nothing’s happened. Everyone is zip tied and held at gunpoint. At the same time, Baz is all alone at home and Pope is leaving a bloody, broken Vin at the hospital; could cause problems.
Dt. Yates and Patrick are at odds, as she wants to tear the place to bits. He cautions against anything too harsh. They wonder where Josh is, assuming he’s in danger. No, he shows up. And he’s shoving everything right down Yates’ throat, having recorded a conversation between him and Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe) after she “raped” him. Whoooooa. Josh Cody: resident bad ass. Turns out J remembers Yates from pulling fast and loose shit with his mother.
Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 1.57.42 AM Josh (to Dt. Yates): “My mom, she hated them, but she hated you more. In the end, shes a Cody, and Im a Cody, too.”


After the cops clear out, Belmont turns up. He’s eager to get the money. A little too eager. He reminds me of Morrie in GoodFellas, always pushing. Janine makes it clear he has to relax until the time is right. She orders him around, as if he’s another one of her boys. Moreover, he’s a first time criminal, he doesn’t know the right way to go about things. He continues to let his life slip away, that old, good life of his – his daughter Nicky (Molly Gordon) is snorting blow and sleeping with Craig. He doesn’t bother to step in. Not such a great dad after all.
Smurf scolds Josh for keeping secrets so long. Last straw, although it seems like he’s a Cody for life at this point. “Play your cards right, you can do well with us,” says grandma before gifting him a gun.
Pope had doubts about Josh, which are now dashed. He’s curious if perhaps Catherine wasn’t saying anything either. So little boy Pope is pressuring his mother for more money, he wants to get away from her. He has finally begun to see the utterly heinous manipulation of Smurf, clearer than ever before. He killed Catherine, but she put the entire thing in motion, goading him towards the act. They have a tense confrontation. Pope perceives the entire situation as Smurf not wanting Baz to leave her side. He feels used to get the “dirty work” finished.


Pope (to Smurf): “Youre sicker than Ill ever be
Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 2.16.22 AM Remember the guy with the car, the one involved with Smurf’s mother back in the day? Well, ole Janine is still following him. The whole time she feels her past right there, fresh in her mind. Then she approaches him in his driveway, pulling a gun on him to blast a few holes in his chest. To leave him bleeding out on the ground, just like he did to her mother all those years ago. A nasty death for him. Might be a little deserved.
Everyone’s getting what they deserve. Or at least, some people. The Codys remain relatively untouched. For now.
Either way life at the Cody residence isn’t all sweet. Josh has his uncle Craig banging his ex-girlfriend, both of them eating together at breakfast with everyone. Pope’s still leading Baz around by the nose, as the now single father is left dealing with a motherless daughter.
And Mama’s just killed a man.
All their secrets are ready to implode the family tree. It’s all waiting for us, next season.
Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 2.24.42 AM Loved the first season. Really great writing, each episode became better than the last. Again, as a huge fan of the original Australian film, I’m impressed with what they’ve done in this adaptation. Season 2 can only mean bigger, better things. Plus, I’m glad they didn’t leave off on a cliffhanger. This leaves things wide open for them, they’re not totally tethered to anything that’ll make it hard to continue the story.

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 9: “Judas Kiss”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 9: “Judas Kiss”
Directed by Christopher Chulack
Written by John Wells

* For a review of the previous episode, “Man In” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “What Have You Done?” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 9.46.24 AM
After the intense finish of last episode, Josh (Finn Cole) is left pondering a decision with Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe). Her suggestion was to call Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux). But will he risk that in the face of Grandma Smurf (Ellen Barkin) and her gang?
Baz (Scott Speedman), Pope (Shawn Hatosy), Craig (Ben Robson), and Deran (Jake Weary) are headed into Camp Pendleton. They pass the vehicle inspection, then they’re in.
At home, Smurf is left wondering where Josh is – he’s busy switching the SIM card out of his phone because his grandmother tracks him, plus all his uncles. Now, he’s meeting with Dt. Yates, as Alexa pulls him in deeper into a scary situation.
Out at the base, the Cody Boys head into the paintball course, gear on, masks ready. They get into a pretty good game with a ton of other players. Until they break off from the pack to their target.  Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell) slips them a key to open a locked gate from which they emerge dressed in Navy camouflage.
Up at the Cody house, Catherine (Daniella Alonso) shows up with her daughter, as grandma does her daily cleaning. There’s lots of tension, though, and Catherine is trying her best to play into whatever Smurf expects of her. She even tries apologising, mending bridges. I’m not just worried about J anymore. I’m worried for Catherine. Even worse, she steals a bunch of money from behind the dryer while Smurf is in the other room. Scarier still? Catherine’s daughter lets slip that mommy’s friend has a car with “a siren” and she’s not supposed to tell daddy about that. Holy. Fuck. This is getting very worrisome.
The boys are moving steadily through their mission at Camp Pendleton. They’ve made their way into the warehouse and find the lot where the money’s held. Baz, Craig, and Pope get to work bagging money while Deran waits outside the warehouse. The amount of money is staggering.
Simultaneously, Josh is meeting with Yates, as well as Patrick (Dorian Missick), the cop who knows Catherine. Either way the truth is coming out about Smurf, the uncles, and Yates makes clear: “Youre expendable, Josh. And you know it. Youre like the colt who cant keep up with the herd when the wolves arrive. And the wolves are circling, Josh.”
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 9.48.56 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-03 at 9.52.32 AM
Josh is being pressed by Yates to give up more information. He refuses to talk about Nicky (Molly Gordon) and her father. Yates is offering a way out, however, none of the police ever think truly about what it’ll be like for someone, especially a family member, after they rat out those close to them. And speaking of people in danger, Smurf’s already discovered the cop friend, now it looks as if she’s found out about Catherine stealing money. None of these issues are going to pan out well.
At the warehouse, the Cody Gang find soldiers kicking around. Luckily for them they’re not headed for the cage where the money’s being stolen. A pulse pounding moment or two. Afterwards, the boys load the cage with the dummy money they prepared, they wrap and seal the plastic again, strap the pallet in, and nobody’s the wiser. What a plan, too. They wrap the money in bags, snap GSP locators on them, then dump it into barrels of diesel or something similar. Tricky, tricky.
With J, things are getting sketchier. Yates wants him to wear a wire: “He might just do it for pussy,” she says wondering if Alexa might “open her legs” for J to get things rolling. Although Patrick doesn’t feel morally capable of letting that happen.
Something I’ve not mentioned enough is the music. The score for the show is absolutely amazing, such an impressive addition that works alongside all the suspense, the tension, the adrenaline. Courtesy of Samuel Jones and Alexis Marsh (Preservation).
And after all their treachery, the Cody Gang heads back onto the paintball course, just like nothing ever happened. They head out, have the SUV chopped, each doing their little part to finish the job off right. True professional thieves. Back at the house, Smurf has a nice big apple pie waiting; a tradition after the latest job. She’s glad to have her boys back following their haul. Meanwhile, Baz is taking “first watch” on the money, as Craig and Deran eat their pie, fire up some weed.


Now Alexa is trying to draw J into the web of deceit of the law. They want him to talk, by any means necessary. Yates needs Alexa to seduce the young man, and that may prove to be just as dangerous as anything else. He’s still a teenager. This could do a lot of damage to him. They fall into bed together, though Alexa cries the entire time. She’s not making it better for herself, or for him. The cops need somebody else other than J to make their case. This, none of it, will end well.
At the same time, Smurf tells Pope about Catherine – the money, that she may be talking to police. This troubles him. “Shes a user,” Mama tells her little boy. “We brought her into our family, but that girl she only cared about herself. I watched her lead you on.” Smurf continues dripping poison into her boy’s ear. That’s another dangerous element. She pounds the betrayal of Catherine into him. Worries me how he’ll deal with all that.
So he goes to her place in the night. He tells Catherine that Smurf knows about the money, the cop. Well, she plays it as being nothing. Problem is that Mama Smurf doesn’t believe that Catherine is not a threat. Everything starts to get creepier. The tension mounts and we begin to wonder exactly what Pope is there to do. This sends Catherine into a frenzy, trying to find any weapon possible nearby. That is, until they start stripping each other, kissing, and they wind up between the sheets…
…where Pope smothers her to death, crying as he does. Probably the most intensely emotional, disturbing scene that’s happened in the entire series so far. Not only was that Baz’s girlfriend, she left behind a little daughter, as well.
The cops are really pressing Josh. Things have changed, though. He’s now roped into Alexa and her physicality. He calls Smurf to let him know he won’t be home, staying at a friend’s, all that. But you can see Grandma Smurf is not pleased when Craig tells her that J is banging his teacher. “Hot as shit, Id be banginher, too,” he tells his mother. The look on her face says it all. She doesn’t like when her boys are into anyone else too much; anybody that isn’t her.
One of her boys is being really naughty. Out digging a grave. While he’s hauling Catherine’s corpse out of the vehicle, her daughter lies asleep in the backseat. How infinitely sad and tragic.


In the morning, Deran takes over the money watch post, as Baz heads back home. To nothing. Simultaneously, Josh is finding the cops applying more pressure: they want him to wear a wire. Yates says he wears the wire, or maybe Smurf finds out where he’s been all night, talking to the police. She spins a hard tale about the Cody uncles. You can see that Patrick isn’t as keen as Yates, he doesn’t like to see Alexa clinging onto Josh and pushing him to a decision. I’m thinking this will make everything more difficult at some point.
When Baz gets home in the morning, he finds no Catherine. Only their little girl.
And Smurf is left alone with her thoughts, imagining what sort of madness comes next.
Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.31.53 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.33.32 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.34.00 AM
Another near perfect episode! What an awesome penultimate Season 1 chapter. The last one is titled “What Have You Done?” and I’m betting all the Cody secrets are about to spill forth. Stay with me.

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 8: “Man In”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 8: “Man In”
Directed by Larry Teng
Written by Megan Martin

* For a review of the previous episode, “Goddamn Animals” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Judas Kiss” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.14.41 AM
Craig and Deran Cody (Ben Robson & Jake Weary) are doing a little job at the local arcade. You can be damn sure Mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) knows nothing of this one. Or does she? Doesn’t seem to me she’d want them doing such petty shit.
At the same time, Baz (Scott Speedman) and Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell) are laying out the plans for their military base job coming up. Although Smurf and Pope (Shawn Hatosy) aren’t as keen on things as Baz. But we’ve seen Belmont get pulled right into the criminal world of the Cody Gang; hook, line, sinker.
Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.17.48 AM
Josh (Finn Cole) talks with Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe), letting her know exactly how wrong what she did to him is, how bad things could get for him if he becomes any further involved. Alexa has this rosy-coloured glasses view on the world, somehow, even after being a junkie herself. She thinks there’s a way to get J out of there, to take down his family without hurting him. However, he lets her know plain and simple: “You have no idea what theyd do to me.”
There’s more convincing needed to get Paul to crossover the last threshold, and Baz greases the wheels, best he can. In other news, Nicky (Molly Gordon) shows up, so Craig distracts her. Only I worry to what ends that may lead.
In regards to Paul, he and the Codys aren’t exactly all on the same page. You can see the scepticism in Pope’s eyes, though that isn’t exactly new. After Belmont leaves, J gets questioned by his family. About whether he has criminal charges. He has none and they’re ready to get him more involved. Or at least that’s how it looks.
Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux) is pushing up further on the Codys, now talking to Baz’s girlfriend Catherine (Daniella Alonso). Yates tells her that Smurf killed her parents. Seriously? That’s the fire Yates was telling Alexa about previously. The one Pope set. Oh, god damn. So now Catherine’s being offered Wit-Pro, all the usual things. Yet there’s no way to pull her away from Baz. Not so far, anyway.
Down on the beach, Craig and Nicky sit smoking a joint, which soon devolves into doing cocaine. That’s great. Who knows what happened there, as we only see Craig go back home alone later. There’s a possibility maybe Uncle Craig has a crush now.
Meanwhile, Uncle Pope takes J out near Camp Pendleton, the military base. He rides in on bike, backpack over his shoulders. They scan his ID, his bag. All clean. Then inside he heads.
Again we see Baz back at his old man’s trailer. He keeps cash there. Out of nowhere his father Ray (Dennis Cockrum) shows up. Last time Baz was there he’d been locked up for a drunk and disorderly. Says he’s trying to stay off the booze. Although none of that impresses Baz after a lifetime of shit.


J is one hell of a sneaky bastard. He gets to Building 13, past a bunch of aircrafts. Climbs a couple ladders, hiding from a helicopter lifting off. Bad ass. He gets to a vent then tosses some paper with a lit cigarette attached inside before running off frantically. Yikes.
Out in a scrapyard, Baz and Pope are meeting Vin (Michael Bowen) to pay him off with $10L. Pope wants the guy out of his life. Except it doesn’t feel like Vin’s ready to “move on” like Baz suggests. More of Pope’s prison life slips out, as the old pal and protector mentions a guard who liked to “play a little game” with the Cody brother. That sounds terrifying, and ugly.
On the base J gets cornered by two MPs. They let the kid go without any trouble. Dumb asses. There’s a possibility they might’ve headed off something big if only there was a bit of action on their part. If only.
There’s always friction in the Cody Gang. We see the need for Pope to always try and be the man, the top dog and most useful member of their clan. To the point of alienating his own kin. Still, he is crazy, so you can’t really get in his way too much. Afterwards when Josh finally gets home he discovers the job is done, everything worked out. His family waits with open arms, shots, congratulations. He gets a cut for doing his part. That’s what being part of this family means.
Pope knows there’s something bothering his mother. It isn’t simply their upcoming job. Little Andrew knows his mother better than she knows herself. Their relationship has been more than close for far too long.
Catherine is also trying to hide all those emotions re: her parents, their death. What may have truly happened. When she talks to Baz about it he’s only demeaning to them. Could there be truth to what Yates said? Was he complicit in any of it? That night when they burned, he called her to sneak out. You just know there’s a deeper, darker deception hiding in Baz.

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When Baz and Pope sit alone together, ironing bills, they get talking about “Hilty” – the guard Vin referenced earlier. Seems Pope beat up a guard, so they all kicked the shit out of him. Hilty used a bit of Abu Ghraib to make things worse, chaining him naked in solitary, blasting music. Definitely ugly stuff. The conversation soon switches to whether Paul is trustworthy. And Baz is sure. Well, that’s what he says.
Next day the Codys are gearing up. J isn’t exactly feeling great. He is not only further into the family business, he’s in worse danger concerning the law due to the direct involvement in crimes. Moreover, he straight up asks Baz: “Are you my dad?” There’s not much love coming from Barry. Mostly a bit of asshole talk, as we’re seeing more of lately. Not to mention he’s alienating someone that could bring everything down on their heads pretty damn easily.
Deran worries about the family mental state. “Theres just something in the air,” he tells Craig. The risks involved with the Camp Pendleton job are the main worry, and what the family mental state will do to it, in turn what it can also do to their freedom. One bit of good news? Catherine isn’t planning on snitching. For the time being.
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Daddy issues of his own, Baz goes to see the old man again. He sits a bottle of whiskey in front of him. He talks about all the things he hates, his father trying to make amends in the tiniest ways, admitting to his issues. But it all prompts Baz to attack him, forcing the liquor down his throat in an act of rage. Yikes.
The other Codys are fitting out a vehicle to get the job set. Everything’s looking in the right place. Even Pope thinks so, too. That’s a nice sign.
J tries to tell Nicky she and her father need to stay away from the Cody Gang. She lashes out, though, saying she did coke with Craig before fucking him. Whoa, if that’s true then things are already bad enough.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Belmont oversees a shipment of money being locked up at the base. He eyes it with more caution this time. Outside in his car, he calls Baz to let him know the game is on. When he heads off then Catherine starts packing. Has she made a decision?
The Codys are all getting smooches from Smurf, each dressed in military green and tan camo. Off they head to start the infiltration.
After the boys are gone Smurf finds Vin sniffing around their gate. At least she has a shotgun. Well, he doesn’t like being paid off. He felt he was “family” because of what he did for Pope in jail. Mama ain’t got time for his shit, though. Vin pushes his luck pretty far until the trigger nearly gets pulled. I only wonder if he’s going to cause the Codys more trouble with what he knows about them from his prison time with Pope. Wait and see.
And Josh? He’s all but ready to break down, rushing into the arms of Ms. Anderson once more. Dangerous.


Josh: “Everything good, they destroy.”
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Another solid episode. We’re closer to the end of the season now, only the penultimate episode and finale left. Episode 9 is titled “Judas Kiss” and that name makes me think there’s about to be lots of trouble rearing its head. Legal trouble, specifically. Who will be the Judas?

Animal Kingdom – Season 1, Episode 7: “Goddamn Animals”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 1, Episode 7: “Goddamn Animals”
Directed by Tim Southam
Written by Eliza Clark

* For a review of the previous episode, “Child Care” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Man In” – click here
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Mama Smurf Cody (Ellen Barkin) is headed off to do her own thing. She leaves Baz (Scott Speedman) with a regular salary for her and the boys, rather than the full amount they’re owed for the last job. Nobody’s happy, though she doesn’t care. She runs shit her way. Craig (Ben Robson) and Deran (Jake Weary) are likely going to not do what they’re supposed to. Pope’s (Shawn Hatosy) too busy sparring his punching bag to care about anything.
Meanwhile they’re all wondering about Josh (Finn Cole). He spent the night over at the house of Alexa Anderson (Ellen Wroe). When he tries leaving she wants more information. Then he opens up a little about his uncle Pope, the family business. Uh oh.
Pope is pissed that Baz knew about mom slipping him pills. “I kinda think you like me crazy; less competition,” says Pope.
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Of course there’s still the clear love of Deran for Adrian (Spencer Treat Clark). Just the way he looks at him, you can tell the dude is shook. He simply can’t come out; to himself, or to anyone around him. “Maybe we should go back to Belize,” he suggests to Adrian. However, there’s an obvious rift between them that won’t ever close. Adrian’s friend that Pope threw in the ocean has an infection, so that doesn’t sit well with the guy. Anyway, Craig shows up, so the two lovers act like nothing’s going on. Or, Deran does. Not so much Adrian. He wants more.
Detective Sandra Yates (Nicki Micheaux) is pleased with the way Alexa is working J. Now there needs to be more. Well, Ms. Anderson fucked up with drugs and she’s found herself on the hook to do whatever the cops need, so any worry she has for J is dashed by the looming spectre of jail.
In other news, Baz returns the briefcase to Paul Belmont (C. Thomas Howell). He’s more than glad to have it back. So much so he starts talking a bit too loosely with Barry, perhaps saying more than he should. Baz is sucking him in further and further with each passing moment. At the same time, Josh comes back to Smurf’s place. Briefly he talks to Paul – nice guy all around – and you can see Josh cares for Nicky (Molly Gordon). A threat from Uncle Barry makes the kid wise up even more than he has already.
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Out doing her thing, Smurf has a friend doing a bit of work for her. Favours. That sort of jazz. He isn’t just a friend. He’s a father to at least one of the boys. Yikes. Such a brief encounter and we get a ton of expository information without a load of dialogue. Great writing that’s made this series lots of fun and so interesting thus far.
And Pope, he’s still got his old buddy Vin (Michael Bowen) sniffing around trying to get him in on a job. Pissed off that they didn’t do that last job together. But he also has a new job for them. When Pope goes with him to case the place it doesn’t turn out he likes the idea. Neither does that conclusion sit well with his old pal Vin.
Baz, a.k.a deadbeat husband and father, promises Catherine (Daniella Alonso) they’ll have another child. Yet Smurf does not approve. Will that hold him back? You can already see Catherine believes it will indeed.
What is Mama Smurf up to? She’s at a garage filled with some gorgeous cars. Stealing? Buying? No telling what’s up that sleeve of hers.
Josh heads back to see Ms. Anderson, or Alexa, as they’re on a first name basis. He finds the place out of order a little. In the bedroom he finds her wasted, throwing up. Likely on the heroin again, or oxy. The good man he is, J helps her to the bathroom and holds her hair as she vomits. Sad to watch him have to go through this with someone else now after his mother. Not too long later they fall into bed together. Goood damn.
At the Cody place there’s a big party going. Tons of people. Kegs. Barbecue. Uncle Craig snatches up his niece from Catherine, as she goes on into the crowd. In the midst of it all sits Adrian, a jaded look on his face. Afterwards, he and Deran go into the garage where they talk a moment, before Adrian walks away. Deran has to make it all look smooth, as Craig is in the driveway with his little niece. Almost giving himself away there.
Vin shows up around Baz, saying things about Pope and what he had to say about his ‘brother’ while in prison. That Catherine was his girl. That the daughter was his daughter. With the hurt feelings over their latest work, Vin wants a piece of some action Baz has going on in order to pay up for keeping Pope safe in jail. This is not going to go over well. I can see Vin meeting an end soon enough, which is probably going to be at the hands of Pope. Or is Baz about to step in? Speaking of Pope he’s talking to Catherine again, stalking her essentially. The look in his eyes says love. The way he goes about it says something else entirely.
The obviousness of Deran’s sexuality is clear to Craig. He doesn’t care. He just would rather if his brother wasn’t a jerk because Adrian is a good guy. Wow. I never expected that, least of all from Craig. Although those two have a good, solid bond between them, as it looks now.


Craig (to Deran): “I dont care who you have sex with, why do you think I invited him?”


Smurf is out with the guy from the garage. She continues plying information out of him, or trying to at least. We get a flash of her with that young surfer dude with the blonde hair, a picture of him and who I assume to be Smurf’s mother. We see more of Smurf as a young woman, the blonde haired man from the photo in the gallery, and he’s shot a woman inside a store. They rush out to the car.
The man from the garage is the man from the photograph. Jesus. I saw it coming, but still. Incredible.
When Baz finds the Cody house in full swing he isn’t overly happy. Mostly, he wants to talk with Pope. They chat about Vin, his threats, what he had to say about Pope and Catherine. So on. The two semi-brothers are at quite a crossroads. There’s a ton of animosity inherently stuck within Pope, always raging to get out. For a moment, he and Baz talk about Julia: “She was supposed to be your sister, too,” Pope tells him.
At the garage, Smurf gets into the old car her once blonde haired friend bought years ago. He talks about how he used to party with a woman,  she was wild, got him into crazy things. He gave her young twelve-year-old girl the nickname Smurf because she’d swim in the water until she turned blue. What a whopper of a scene and exchange between these two. You can see the frantic memories running behind Smurf’s eyes, terrifying her.


Back home, Baz and Catherine talk about Pope. She tells him about his sort of stalking. “He loves you, he always has,” Baz says nonchalant. Like it doesn’t even bother him, really. Then up shows Craig, there’s movement in terms of their next job. They need to get ready. In the meantime, Catherine calls her cop friend for a little consoling.
Deran rushes to Adrian. He kisses him right out in the open. Only Adrian shrugs him off and doesn’t want to pursue their relationship anymore. Not the way Deran wanted it before. That’s all ruined their chances.
Baz goes to see Paul while he’s playing some basketball. He takes a chance and tells Belmont about everything; the robbery, the briefcase. Then gives the man an opportunity to do something big and Baz gives some advice: “If youre gonna cross the line, make sure its a line worth crossing.”


When Smurf gets back she finds Baz knows she didn’t go for a rip in Vegas. Otherwise, the big Navy job is looking swell. Seems like Paul is on board. Barry knows Smurf isn’t well when she cries right there and then. Did she kill the man? What happened?
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Great episode. Offered up plenty of nice backstory, as well as developed a couple characters in some much needed ways. Next episode is titled “Man In” and I bet we’ll see a nice dose of adrenaline soaked excitement; big things are coming.